My eight-year-old daughter, Hallie, still can’t wrap her arms even halfway around the giant oak in our yard. Our little farmhouse was built in 1930—the first in this square mile—many, many moons ago. She looks like a pint-sized ant standing by the tree’s trunk, peering up into the branches that triple the height of our home. “How did it grow so big?” she asks with a blend of curiosity and wonder. “Well. It happened a little bit at a time, every single day,” I answer. “We can plant an acorn and water it and make sure it’s positioned for sunlight, but it’s God who makes it grow.”
Growth happens a little bit at a time, every single day.
My five-year-old son, Jack, stands next to his daddy and looks up at his towering stature with a proud grin. He measures the top of his head to the middle of Dad’s ribcage and questions, “How can I grow like you?” Derek lifts Jack up on his shoulder and tosses him on the couch like a throw pillow. “A little bit at a time,” he tells him, “every single day.” “We can eat healthy food and make sure our bodies get lots of exercise, but it’s God who makes you grow.”
“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:7-9)
Even now—today—we’re all staring down the barrel at some kind of task: starting a project, remodeling a house, potty-training a toddler, teaching a classroom, learning the ways of God, leading an organization, breaking down walls in a less-than-ideal relationship. And we find ourselves asking, “How can this grow?” The truth is: progress happens a little bit at a time, every single day. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no quick fix or speedy drive-thru window. We can bring our best and implement different strategies and never give up, but it’s God who makes it grow.
We can bring our best and implement different strategies and never give up, but it’s God who makes it grow.
Sometimes we stand back and look at the heroes of our faith like Abraham and Moses, John and Paul—maybe even a parent, teacher, or mentor. And we wonder, “How can I grow to be spiritually mature, like them?” You know the answer by now: Growth happens a little bit at a time, every single day. But rarely does anything happen overnight (or by itself). Instead, our lives are built moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day—by planting, watering, and allowing God to do the deep, mysterious work. God’s plan all along was for us to be coheirs and coworkers with Jesus in the Kingdom of God.
Our lives are built moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day—by planting, watering, and allowing God to do the deep, mysterious work.
Jesus told many stories about the value of investing our time, talents, and treasures wisely. He didn’t create us as robots, but as living and breathing people with divine responsibility—not to earn our salvation (he already won that battle), but to continuously bring glory to His name.
God will do His part, I promise. But let’s not forget to do ours.